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Unique sports cars show their stuff on Main

by Andrew Kirk, OF THE RECORD STAFF

When a part needs replacing on a 50-year-old sports car that hasn’t been made in three decades, repairs can get tricky.

That’s why, 25 years ago, local Austin-Healey automobile owners formed the Bonneville Austin-Healey Club.

The club will celebrate its anniversary, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Healey "Sprite," arguably the first mini-sports car, with a Park City car show on Main Street and banquet at Jeremy Ranch.

The British company made small, affordable cars low to the ground with good torque that hugged corners and were fun to drive, said club member Ann Lewis. A 1960 Healey was her first car, which she gave up after having kids. Once an empty-nester, she found another and has been driving it around the West for over 20 years.

Club members help each other repair and improve their cars and enjoy the company of others with similar interests, said former club president Dave Maxwell.

The car show has 30 parking spaces reserved on lower Main Street from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. but only anticipates about 15 Healey owners attending. The remaining spots are open to anyone with a unique sports car interested in participating, Maxwell said.

Jim Thorton, club membership coordinator, said he enjoys the shows not because he hopes to win any prizes, but because he loves hearing people tell stories about Healeys they’ve owned or ridden in.

"Hearing the oohs and aahs is a bit of an ego trip," he joked.

Repairing Healeys, however, is no laughing matter. Thorton has purchased two of the cars just to keep for parts. There are a few companies that continue to sell parts, but they aren’t very good he said. The best way to make repairs is to trade for parts with other club members, he said.

"It’s hard to work on these if you’re a loaner in your garage," he said.

Having the cars are worth it, though. Maxwell said he’s driven his all across the country from British Columbia to Texas and beyond.

Lewis and her husband Doug enjoy driving theirs along the Pacific Coast. There’s no air conditioning and the engine sometimes blows hot air into the cab, but the nostalgia for her first car and the fun of driving the British classic are well worth it, she said.

According to a press release from the club, members that own Sprites will have them on display as well as "Big Healeys" (100s, 100-6s and 3000s).

Over 73,000 Austin-Healey’s were produced in England between 1952 and 1968 by the efforts of the Donald M. Healey Motor Company, Ltd. In 1955, the 100S model averaged 132.29 MPH for 24 hours at Sebring and a mean speed of 143.1 MPH over the measured mile at Bonneville, Utah in August of 1954.

What: Bonneville Austin-Healey Club Car Show

Where: lower end of Main Street, Park City

Why: Celebrate 25th anniversary of club

When: August 16, 2008 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Who: Public is invited to attend as well as owners of unique sports cars interested in applying to participate.

Contact Dave Maxwell, 801-943-4803, sandmax@q.com .


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